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Abstract

September 1990 letter from the New York State Commission on Government Integrity to Governor Mario M. Cuomo. “This letter constitutes the final report of the Commission on Government Integrity. The Commission was created by Executive Order 88.1 and directed to examine a wide variety of subjects concerning government integrity in New York State. Since its inception, the Commission has submitted 20 reports containing specific recommendations for reform of New York laws, regulations and procedures. Some of these recommendations can be implemented by executive order; others require action by the New York State Legislature. Most of the recommendations would impose no additional cost on the taxpayer. The Commission's reports and recommendations are summarized in Appendix A.” “Based on the Commission's work over the past 40 months, it has found that the laws, regulations and procedures of New York State fall woefully short in guarding against political abuses in an alarming number of areas. We have thoroughly exposed these weaknesses repeatedly in our hearings and reports. Despite significant steps taken in New York City and a few other local governments and a tentative beginning by the State in 1987 with the passage of the Ethics Act and the creation of this Commission, we are of the unanimous view that New York State has not yet demonstrated a real commitment to ethical reform in government. Our State trails the pack in the area of government ethics legislation, a field in which we should play a leadership role. The campaign finance law of the State is a disgrace and embarrassment; incumbents are favored unfairly by the State Election Law; the laws governing access to the primary ballot are completely at odds with the democratic principle of open elections; judges are elected in a manner that weakens the independence of the judiciary; personnel practices are tainted with politics; municipal officials are given little guidance in handling conflicts of interest; and untold millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted as a result of flawed contracting procedures.” Included with the letter are the following appendices: Appendix A - Summary of Commission Reports This summary provides brief descriptions of the investigations undertaken in connection with the Commission's reports, a summary of the Commission's recommendations, and a description of the response, if any, to those recommendations. Specifically, the summary includes recommendations addressing the following issues in New York state government: - campaign finance; - the judicial selection process; - the Ethics in Government Act; - ballot access; - forfeiture of pensions; - the Open Meetings Law; - patronage; - municipal ethics; - campaign finance for statewide officeholders; - the unfair incumbent advantage; - contracting practices at the State Division of Substance Abuse; - contracting practices in New York City; - ethics training; - protection for whistleblowers; - underground government; - party politics in Westchester County, - Poughkeepsie ’85: a case study of election law abuses, and; - restoring the public trust: a blueprint for government integrity. Appendix B - Reports Issued and Public Hearings Conducted by the Commission Appendix C - New York State Commission on Government Integrity Staff Appendix D - Commission Litigation

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